Basketball in Greece has not yet celebrated its 100th anniversary, contrary to Panathinaikos that has exceeded one century of life and success stories. Nonetheless, basketball and Panathinaikos go hand-in-glove from the very first day that the now orange but at the time brown leather ball crossed the borders and entered our country’s territory.
The person responsible for this immediate relationship was the founder of Panathinaikos, George Kalafatis. In 1919 he attended the “Paris Inter-Allied Games”. He asked about the rules of the game, learned them and returned to Greece with the necessary equipment to setup a basketball department in Panathinaikos. The team created included Apostolos Nikolaidis in its roster. The game between Panathinaikos – YMAC of Thessaloniki at the Panathinaic Stadium (also known as Kallimarmaro) in 1922 was the beginning of it all…
In the difficult years that followed basketball fell short of making it, did not quite take on with the people…this only came about 15 years later. The pioneers of that team were Aghelos Philippou, N. Matzaroglou, E. Frantzeskakis, I. Litsas, P. Dimitrakos, P. Kampourakis, T. Karagiorgos, E. Karadimos, G. Bofilios, F. Papaoikonomou, P. Polykratis, N. Polykratis, G. Skoularikis, K. Katrizoglou, H. Katelian.
From 1937 to this day the Panathinaikos’ basketball team does justice to the verse of the club anthem that reads “there is no greater club than this…” In spite of the problems during the German occupation the “Greens” have tried to the extent possible to find some sort of way out through sports; the same happened with other clubs and teams. They did not give up on basketball. In an attempt to make life turn back to normal, sports gained ground and for Panathinaikos it brought along its first basketball title in 1946. Since then Panathinaikos counts with 6 Euroleague championships, 34 HEBA Championships, 17 Greek Cups and 1 Transcontinental Cup.
Panathinaikos is “condemned” to collecting trophies and does precisely what it was founded to do, spreading joy to millions of its fans the world over. The Panathinaikos jersey has been worn by players who have left their mark in basketball history and some continue to do so…the list seems inexhaustible… Dominique Wilkins, Byron Scott, Dino Radja, Tony Delk, Stojan Vrankovic, Nikos Gallis, Panaghiotis Giannakis, Fanis Christodoulou, Zeljko Rebraca, Dejan Bodiroga, Oden Katash, to name but a few …The names go on and on reaching those of the contemporary team captains, Fraghiskos Alvertis and now Dimitris Diamantidis or that of the longest-running foreign player in the Greek Men’s A1 Division, Mike Batiste… They have all linked their names with the “clover’s” Και τα ονόματα συνεχίζονται για να φτάσουν titles and great successes. One thing is for sure: that the titles will continue to flow in, the golden pages in history will continue to be written, because this is the very reason why Panathinaikos was founded in the first place.